Arctic Monkeys Humbug (Domino)
British pseudo-punk quartet Arctic Monkeys established a sound with its first album and solidified that sound with a second. Now begins the tricky business of gradual modification. The chunky, line-drive curvature of the Monkeys' first two releases is replaced with a roomy echo chamber. The band is less concerned with racing through verses to get to hooks and more worried about atmospherics and reverb. Besides "Crying Lightening," it's hard to pick out an especially apt radio hit. But a change had to come, and this one's for the better.
Felix da Housecat He Was King (Nettwerk)
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He Was King attempts to make catchy, digestible cheese while simultaneously winking at the listener. Felix da Housecat seems like the type of artist who couldn't live with himself if he wrote a hook-heavy track that wasn't at least a little tongue-in-cheek. Song titles like "Spank U Very Much" and "Plastik Fantastik" indicate a certain level of disdain for slickly packaged electro-pop. But there's also the sense that Felix would like nothing more than to release a hit record. The electroclash pioneer tries desperately to produce club bangers that produce minimal success. But mainstream music is something you have to commit to. You can't have one foot in the music snob closet and the other on the nonexclusive dance floor.